OS grid reference:- SE 533 767
Coxwold, one of Yorkshire's most picturesque villages, is located on the southern edge of the North York Moors National Park and lies 18 miles to the north of the city of York. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded as Cucvalt, part of the Yalestre hundred. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon words Cuc, meaning cry and valt, meaning wood. It was owned by the Saxon, Kofse, at the time of the Norman conquest but was later granted to Hugh, son of Baldric. The manor later passed to the Colville family.
Coxwold is a quiet retreat in rural surroundings and a haven for ramblers, cyclists and a useful base for exploring the surrounding area including York, Helmsley and Harrogate. The village has a pottery, a furniture maker, tea rooms, tennis courts, a Village Hall, a children's play area. The village inn, the Fauconberg Arms, dates back to the seventeenth century, it offers a renowned restaurant, bar meals and accommodation. The Almshouses in the vilage date to 1662 while the Old Grammar School was built in 1603 and stands opposite St Michaels Church.
The writer Laurence Sterne, author of Tristam Shandy lived at Coxwold. Sterne's home of Shandy Hall is located across the road from the village church where he preached from 1760-1768. It was was originally built in 1430 as a parsonage for Coxwold's village priest. Sterne moved into the building in 1760, and renamed it Shandy Hall. Two volumes of Tristam Shandy had already been published, but he did complete the work while living at Shandy Hall, where he also also wrote his other major work, A Sentimental Journey.
Newburgh Priory, a Grade I listed stately home built from a Augustinian priory, stands on the southern edge of Coxwold. The original medieval Priory was built in 1145 by Roger De Mowbray. When the Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII it was bought by Anthony de Bellasis. The Bellasis family later became the Barons Fauconberg, and changed their name. When the Fauconberg line died out in 1825 the estate passed to the Wombell family. Newburgh Priory is believed to be where Oliver Cromwell's body was brought after his death by his daughter Mary and where he lies buried.
The ruins of Byland Abbey, an imposing medieval monastery in a scenic setting, lie 2 miles from the village. The abbey was described along with Fountains and Rievaulx Abbey as "one of the three shining lights of the north". Byland was famed for its sheep rearing and wool exports. Its church was said to be among the finest twelfth century churches in Europe.
St Michael's church
A place of worship has occupied the site of St Michael's church since 700. The church is situated at the top of a hill opposite Shandy Hall. The original Saxon church was replaced with a Norman one in the late eleventh century. The present building dates from the early fifteenth century and has an unusual octagonal west tower.
It was once the estate chuch for the local Newburgh Estate, the oak nave ceiling has basket-arched beams and is decorated with early fifteenth century bosses depicting the arms of prominent Yorkshire families. Above the chancel arch is displayed the royal coat of arms of george II flanked by Fauconberg arms. The four carved mice in the nave and Lady Chapel and on the lectern are the signature of Robert Thompson, the 'Mouseman of Kilburn'.
The chancel contains memorials to the Bellasis, Fauconberg and Wombwell families who were lords of the manor of Coxwell. At either side of the altar stand two impressive lifesize marble figures of Henry Belasyse (died 1647) and his son Thomas, Earl Fauconberg (died 1700). There is also a tombchest to William Belasyse (died 1603) and his wife Margaret, with recumbent effigies.
The communmion rail has a kink in the middle and protrudes into the personal pews of the Newburgh Family so that they did not have to leave their benches and mix with the other church goers, It is said to be one or two such in the country.
In the churchyard is the grave of the author Laurence Sterne, vicar of St. Michael's 1760-1768.